Week 6 of the fantasy football season saw Aaron Rodgers suffer what was likely a season-ending injury, Adrian Peterson regain his 2013 form, Mark Ingram cash in on his departure, and 2017’s lowest winning point total in FanDuel’s NFL Sunday Million tourney. A recap of my Week 6 picks and the winning Sunday Million lineup, and then the best pivot plays for Week 7.
But a few other observations on Week 6 first. New Orleans’ defense scored 33 points against Detroit. You deserved to win money if you saw that coming. Week 6 was, predictability, the right time to pay up for a tight end. Terrell Pryor is dead to me. Finally, my pivot picks last week were pretty good, but I still finished just outside the money in the Sunday Million. The lesson? Don’t shy away from chalk just so you can easily find your picks’ ownership rates for your next column.
Week 6 FanDuel Sunday Million Winning Lineup
Total Points: 194.42
Carson Palmer: $7,100 salary; 21.92 points; 2.7% owned
Le’Veon Bell: $9,000 salary; 26.6 points; 11% owned
Mark Ingram: $5,900 salary; 27.5 points; 7.8% owned
Mike Evans: $8,100 salary; 17 points; 5.1% owned
Larry Fitzgerald: $6,600 salary; 22.8 points; 12.7% owned
DeSean Jackson: $6,400 salary; 11.3 points; 7.1% owned
Rob Gronkowski: $8,000 salary; 23.3 points; 11.6% owned
Will Lutz: $4,700 salary; 11 points; 12.8% owned
New Orleans Saints: $4,200 salary; 33 points; 2% owned
Week 6 Picks
Matthew Stafford: 17.88 points; 1.8% owned
Lamar Miller: 9.6 points; 6.7% owned
Brandin Cooks: 12.3 points; 5.2% owned
Hunter Henry: 11.5 points; 9.2% owned
Chalk: Matt Ryan ($8,700), Drew Brees ($8,000)
Why: Too many will buy into the narrative on Matt Ryan’s redemption game. The Patriots have one of the league’s worst secondaries, though, and they’ve been torched by quarterbacks all year. Brees has been somewhat disappointing in 2017, but the Packers will be one of his best matchups of the season, particularly in a game with a 47.5 over/under. Tom Brady will also get some love, as the o/u for his matchup with Ryan’s Falcons is 54.
Mariota would be a chalk play on Sunday if not for the handful of high scoring games projected in Week 7. Vegas has Tennessee and Cleveland at 46.5, somewhat of a shootout, but 6 games this weekend are even higher than that.
Mariota obviously has a favorable matchup against the Browns on Sunday, but concerns over his hamstring should limit ownership, particularly when so much of his fantasy value is dependent on his legs.
Cleveland is in the middle of the pack in points surrendered to quarterbacks on FanDuel, but the Browns are DEAD LAST in the NFL in opponent passer rating. And Mariota had his first 300-yard passing game of 2017 last week. Tennessee probably isn’t good enough to run away with this one, so I like Mariota for 20+ FanDuel points at 8-9% ownership on Sunday.
Taylor has been hit or miss so far this year, but like Mariota he draws his most favorable matchup of the year on Sunday. Tampa Bay is 29th in the NFL in opponent passer rating while giving up the fifth most FanDuel points to quarterbacks.
That won’t go unnoticed, but at $7,000 he makes a good punt and pivot play, as his ownership will stay below 10%. Buy.
CHALK: Le’Veon Bell ($8,600); Jerick McKinnon ($7,000)
Why: Bell had his best game of the year in a huge win against the Chiefs last Sunday, rushing for 179 yards on 32 carries. With Big Ben struggling, the Steelers will have to continue relying on Bell to win games. McKinnon draws a Baltimore defense allowing 4.3 yards per carry and surrendering the third most FanDuel points to running backs.
Already one of fantasy football’s most frustrating players going into Week 6, Anderson managed just 17 yards on 9 carries in an unexplainable loss to the Giants on Sunday night.
That will keep Anderson’s ownership low going into Week 7, when Denver travels to LA to face what is arguably the league’s worst run defense. The Chargers have surrendered the most FanDuel points to opposing running backs, and the 5.0 yards-per-carry allowed is second worst in the NFL.
The Broncos need a win in Week 7 to keep pace with the 5-1 Chiefs, and they’ve been successful when they’ve relied on Anderson in 2017. He’s averaging over 24 touches and almost 120 total yards in Denver’s three wins this season. Against the Chargers, they have no excuse not to feed him.
Adrian Peterson’s trade to Arizona opened up the backfield in New Orleans. That only really paid off for Mark Ingram in Week 6, but Kamara’s touches will be there in Sean Payton’s offense. He will have value every week, particularly in PPR and half-point PPR formats, which FanDuel is.
Kamara had 10 targets in Week 4, and hadn’t seen less than five in any game this season before Drew Brees targeted him just three times last Sunday. That’s an anomaly, but it makes him a nice differentiation option in Week 7.
CHALK: Julio Jones ($8,800), Michael Thomas ($7,700)
Why: You can make a case for and against Antonio Brown and A.J. Green this week. I think ownership rates for each will be in the double digits, but I wouldn’t consider either to be “chalk.” Julio will be, though, in a Super Bowl rematch against one of the league’s worst pass defenses. Hard to identify true chalk elsewhere, but I think a bunch of people will overlook Thomas’ dud in Week 6 and roll him out against the Packers.
Back to the well with Cooks, who was just 5.2% owned last week when he put up a modest 12.3 points on FanDuel. But the former Saint has quickly gone from inconsistent to reliable, with at least eight targets in each of the past two weeks. In total, he’s drawn at least six targets in all but one game this season.
Tom Brady is going to continue spreading the ball between New England’s top 3 receivers, Gronk, and a few of its pass catching backs, but there should be plenty of opportunities to go around on Sunday Night. With that kind of volume, all Cooks needs is a touchdown to make him really valuable in Week 7. And in a game with a 54 over/under, there’s a good chance that happens.
The Giants host the Seahawks coming off one of the most surprising wins of 2017. New York was winless and without Shepard, Brandon Marshall and OBJ, but still managed to go into Denver and win pretty easily.
As Shepard returns from a minor ankle injury, he’ll be the only viable option in the Giants’ receiving corps. The Seahawks are a tough opponent, and some will shy away from Shepard because of the assumption Seattle will focus solely on shutting him down. But Eli Manning literally has no other receiver to throw to, and six catches for 90 yards would make him a difference maker in Week 7.
CHALK: Rob Gronkowski ($8,500), Cameron Brate ($6,200)
Why: Gronkowski should benefit as much as anyone from a high scoring affair against Atlanta. Brate is averaging almost 15 FanDuel points per game over the past 4 weeks, and he’s still pretty reasonably priced at $6,200.
While Sam Bradford has been doing Sam Bradford things, like not playing, Rudolph has been the biggest beneficiary of the volatility at the quarterback position in Minnesota. Backup QB Case Keenum relies heavily on his tight end, as Rudolph has drawn nine targets in each of the past two weeks, and that will continue on Sunday against Baltimore.
Mercedes Lewis hung three touchdowns on the Ravens in Week 3, and each of Chicago’s tight ends found the endzone last week. Baltimore has been generous to tight ends, and Rudolph will be the best one they’ve faced in 2017. He’s not going to win a tournament for anyone, but Rudolph makes a solid, if unexciting, option on Sunday.
Jimmy Graham won’t be the lowest owned tight end on Sunday, but his stock still hasn’t fully recovered after a terrible start to 2017. That makes him an attractive option in Week 7.
He’ll be overshadowed by Gronk, Brate and ASJ, but Graham probably has the best matchup of any good tight end this week, as the Giants have gotten torched by the position all year. If you don’t want to pay up for Gronk or take the risk with Rudolph, Graham should be your guy in the FanDuel Sunday Million.